There is one group of people that both NFL coaches and players want to have absolute trust in their dealings, and that is team doctors. Coaches need to accurately know how a player is injured and a player’s career depends on proper diagnosis of injuries.
That is the exact opposite of what happened with the New Orleans Saints. Mike Triplett of ESPN reported that New Orleans has fired a pair of orthopedists that misdiagnosed an injury to cornerback Delvin Breaux.
Deryk Jones and Misty Suri diagnosed the player with a contusion, but coaches later learned that he actually had a fractured fibula. The Saints’ frustration with how long it was taking Breaux to heal led to the correct diagnosis. The team’s staff then fired Jones and Suri after bringing their mistake to light.
Breaux will now be out four to six weeks with this injury. Last season, he only played in six games and has been sidelined with nagging injuries. Journalists asked Saints head coach Sean Payton last week about a report in the New Orleans Advocate stating that the team was looking to trade Breaux.
Payton would neither confirm nor deny that the club’s plans for the cornerback, but he did state that it was important for every player to be available for practice and preseason games as often as possible.
Now, it seems highly unlikely that New Orleans will be able to trade Breaux now that he is out for a month and a half. The Saints will be left with two choices: wait for him to heal, or cut him and deal with any salary-cap ramifications.
New Orleans needs every healthy, proven defensive player that it can find if the team is going to fix its historically bad defense. The Saints have to play better on that side of the ball if they don’t want to finish 7-9 for the fourth straight season.
Past and present Saints players now have to wonder how many injuries the former doctors missed before the team fired them. It doesn’t seem like Breaux could be the first player that the pair misdiagnosed. Hopefully, those potentially missed injuries didn’t severely impact players’ careers.
Coaches have to rely on team doctors to figure out what to do with players, whether that means benching them or sending them back on the field. An athlete’s long-term career and salary can depend on a doctor not making a mistake.